logo
Home
About the
Azure Mountain Friends


Azure Facts & History

The Restoration Project

"A Tower & A Rock"

Summit Volunteer
Program


High School/College Interpretive Scholarship
Program

How to Donate to the Work of the AMF
Patches, T-Shirts,
& "Azure Guide"


Photo Album
Stories

Maps

Related Links
Azure Art

AZURE MOUNTAIN STORIES
The Lure, Cure and Sure of Azure
Originally published in Peeks By Mike McLean #3869W

leaves+tower“You’re almost there!” an excited, small girl, maybe six years old, with dirt-stained knees, curly red hair, and bright blue eyes boldly states as she pets my dog Duke.  “Am I? Thanks for letting me know” I reply, smile back and finish the last straight stretch up to the summit of Azure.

October 15, 1989
An old wooden sign that reads “Fire Tower Closed” identifies the starting point as my wife Pam and I have decided to climb Azure, which is in our backyard, plus or minus 20 minutes, after moving to St. Regis Falls on October 1.  “This has to be it,” I state, as we hike up an old road that gradually ascends to a picturesque cabin, storage shed, and picnic table next to a small stream. The old road turns into a faint trail that enters the woods between the buildings, and then climbs very steeply straight up the mountain. A couple of switchbacks can be used, but are overgrown and poorly marked, so it is easier to fight your way straight up the open herd path. The fire tower finally comes into view. We have the summit to ourselves and are greeted with wonderful views to the south, ranging east from Debar Mountain and heading west to Whiteface, the High Peaks, the Seward Range, the ski slopes on Mount Morris in Tupper Lake and ending at Lake Ozonia and the St. Lawrence Valley. I try to climb a large boulder located on a rock ledge west of the summit and fail and no way will Pam let me climb up the “closed” fire tower. “Very nice,” I state and down we go.

July 31, 2000
“Azure Mountain 1.0 Mile” states the wooden sign as we pull into the parking area, which can now accommodate a dozen or so cars. Pam goes ahead to sign us in the now five-year old trail register while I put on my full pack, complete with three gallons of water.  We follow the old road past the picnic table. The DEC removed the cabin and storage shed in the summer of 1995.  The old road turns into a well-worn trail that switches back and forth up the mountain eight times, intermixed with straight sections, but still quite steep in places.  Student crews from Paul Smith’s College have been busy the last few years improving and rerouting the trail. We pass a few early evening hikes, now a common site, get to the summit, ditch the pack, dump the water at the fire tower, and head over to the boulder. I pick one of three easy routes up the boulder that doesn’t involve scraping my knees or serious climbing skills and enjoy the views form the rock for a few minutes.  “You know we must be approaching 300 times up Azure.” I state to Pam. We return to the fire tower and elect not to climb it today. “Very nice,” I state and down we go.

A 2,500 Foot Stepping Stone
At an elevation of approximately 2,500 feet, Azure Mountain is no where close to being a High Peak or even in the Adirondack Top 100, but Azure has been my training ground to heights tried, conquered, and dreamed-Mount Rainier in August 1995, Kilimanjaro in October 2007, the Winter 46 in 1997, Aconcagua in 1998, and now training for Denali in 2001. The best way to prepare for hauling heavy packs up steep, distant mountains is to haul heavy packs up steep, proximate mountains. Weekends and holidays are spent on higher peaks or other activities much further from home, but Azure doesn’t seem to mind. No matter if I’m dragging or energetic, if it’s clear or storming, or what the season is, the summit always greets me with the same peaceful easy feeling so distinct from any other peak.

So Many Memories
Hanging out on the old cabin porch waiting for the rain to stop; sliding straight down the mountain on the old trail on our “Butt Bobs” (EMS Swiss Bobs) and climbing back up to do it again; laying on your back on the fire tower floor watching the clouds fly by as the wind shakes the tower; relaxing on the boulder watching the turkey vultures soaring in the wind along the cliffs; listening to the birds along the way and learning to identify them by their songs; watching the show from thunderstorms rolling through the St. Lawrence valley and then trying to beat the storm back to the car; celebrating many Christmases at home with an early morning climb to the summit; picking blueberries on a hot summer day while the wind dries your shirt out from the climb; seeing deer and eagles along the Blue Mountain Road on a winter’s drive to the trailhead; scrambling up the rocks west of the southern climbing routes or bushwhacking up the northern side for a change in venue; climbing solo in the silence of November and watching the stars come out.


“You’re almost there!” an excited, small girl, maybe six years old, with dirt-stained knees, curly red hair, and bright blue eyes boldly states as she pets my dog Duke.  Am I?
Almost where?  How many more times will I be blessed with seeing the summit of Azure?   Just where exactly is the next “there” that life takes me?

Back to Stories

The Azure Mountain Friends, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization.